IDAHO — Halloween is almost here, and with no shortage of trick-or-treating fun around the Treasure Valley, you'll probably find yourself with plenty of candy in the house soon!
Unfortunately, all that sweet stuff can sometimes be a scary sight for your smile so it's important to take steps before, during, and after the holiday to protect those teeth.
"You may think that the dentist is going to say, 'no candy,' this Halloween, and I'm not going to tell you that," says Dr. Alice Zeigler, a dentist at North End Dental and member of the Idaho State Dental Association. "There are certain strategies that you can use to make sure that you're maintaining your oral health at the same time."
Some of those strategies include limiting or changing when you eat candy versus avoiding a treat altogether.
"Frequency is a bigger factor in tooth decay than quantity when it comes to candy so if you're going to have five pieces of candy, it's going to be better for your teeth to have those five pieces of candy in one sitting, preferably after a meal when you've got lots of great saliva flowing, even better if you can brush and floss your teeth afterwards," says Dr. Zeigler. "That's going to be a lot healthier for your teeth than it would be to have those exact same five pieces of candy spread throughout the day. The frequency makes a big difference."
Dr. Zeigler adds it's important to remember not every candy will affect you the same way.
"Something like a sucker that's in your mouth for a long time, you're just bathing your teeth in sugar. The same goes for hard candies or even sticky gummy candies that can get stuck in your teeth. There's a lot of time for that sugar to be in contact with your teeth."
For those with braces, there are also a few rules to keep in mind when choosing which candy to enjoy first.
"Sticky candies and hard candies are notorious for breaking brackets. That's going to prolong your treatment time. Nobody wants to be in braces longer than they have to so you're going to want to go through your treats and choose some things that are easier to chew. Chocolate, you can't go wrong with chocolate," Dr. Zeigler explains. "Peanut butter cups, something like that, would also be a better choice than the hard candies."
Dr. Zeigler says the same rules apply to people with fillings, or even if you have the perfect smile, you could still break a tooth biting into a hard candy.
Even if you have no trouble satisfying your sweet tooth, Dr. Zeigler wants to remind everyone to follow basic hygiene rules and avoid some common mistakes around the holiday season.
"I would say not brushing thoroughly or frequently enough and flossing. If you're really taking care of your mouth, you should be able to enjoy those treats this Halloween season."
If you have questions about oral care or need to get back on your dental routine, click here to find a dentist.